Tahrir Square

DSC_0025I was on holidays in Egypt in 2012 and my reading of Tahrir: The Last 18 Days of Mubarak got me thinking about Tahrir Square.  At the time Mohamed Morsi was in power and Egypt, despite Morsi’s obvious faults, seemed to be heading for a brighter more democratic future.  Pictures of the deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak were noticeable by their absence.  People were happy to talk about football, less so about politics.  One afternoon we walked through the embassy district where bored looking teenage soldiers stood guard.  One young soldier casually spun an old revolver around on his finger like a cowboy.  Amusing as it was it didn’t exactly instil confidence in the professionalism of the Egyptian army.  We walked down to Tahrir Square to look at the political graffiti in the area which was the heart of the protests against Mubarak’s rule.  We left Cairo and took a train to Alexandria. DSC_0023Whilst in Alexandria the Innocence of Muslims film controversy erupted.  In Egypt opinions were further inflamed by the fact that the film maker was an Egyptian Coptic Christian.  We caught glimpses of the violent demonstrations that broke out across the Muslim world, including Cairo.  We  saw pictures of angry crowds gather outside the US embassy we had walked past a few day’s earlier.  Not that we noticed any difference in our reception from average Egyptians.  The Arab world is incredibly polite and friendly.  Even where a language barrier existed people would make their friendliness known to you with smiles.  Even then there were very few tourists, once you walked away from the Pyramids or the Egyptian Museum the tourists were swallowed by their tour buses and we were dissolved into the noise and chaos of Cairo.  Since the coup that overthrew Morsi over 2,500 protesters have been killed by security services.  Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government have effectively made protesting a blood sport where protesters are gunned down with impunity by anonymous gunmen.  The heady days of revolutionary protest embodied by Tahrir Square are now a distant memory.

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SCAF is the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces who took power from Mubarak.

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I had never seen this flag before although it is now associated with ISIS. Those who ousted Mubarak were an uneasy alliance of every shade of opinion from the secular to the extreme fundamentalist.

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Certain judges were believed to work hand in glove with the Mubarak regime.

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The Mogamma Building which can hold 18,000 Egyptian civil servants. Apparently many areas are overstaffed to such an extent that some have no desks and just show up to collect their pay.

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The burnt out NDP building, home to Mubarak’s party, next to the Egyptian Museum.

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Baby-saving soldier in the Egyptian National Military Museum.

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